Kristen Otte

Finding Love and Laughter through Story

The Writing Group Experience


About two months ago, I joined a writing group organized by the Cuyahoga County Library. This group is for “beginning fiction writers,” but the term beginning applies more to the level of workshop or writing group experience as opposed to how long you’ve been writing. The group is facilitated by author Sarah Willis.

In March, I attended the first workshop and left with a positive feeling. We talked a little about ourselves and our writing. We critiqued the first two chapters of a group member’s novel. By the end, I was feeling adventurous so I volunteered to bring one of my Zelda short stories to the April meeting to be critiqued.

We met for the second time on April 11 and I came to the meeting a tad bit nervous. I picked Zelda vs. the Snowman to be critiqued and I wasn’t sure of the response or if the group was right for me. My friend Eric, recently posted on writing groups- Writing Groups: Yea or Nay? and the topic brought lots of comments on both sides- for and against writing groups.

After Thursday night, I am definitely in the pro writing group camp. The group gave me great feedback on the Zelda story and how to improve the Zelda collection as a whole. They also gave me ideas for the target audience of the series in whichever direction I choose to go (kids picture book vs kids chapter book vs adult short stories). I left Thursday night with a new list of revisions and stories to write, but also very encouraged that I really can do this writing thing. (although it will take time and more time, especially since I need to work to pay the bills!)

My group is especially helpful because we have a facilitator, an author who knows how to write and what gets published and what is successful. We also are a group of writers who are looking to encourage and help each other. That makes it work.

What are your thoughts on writing groups?


5 thoughts on “The Writing Group Experience

  1. Hi Kristen, thanks for following my blog, and I’m happy to have found yours because of it. I, too, have written about critique groups, but I think the make or break of that experience is the individuals who comprise the group. Sounds like your group is savvy and established, as opposed to beginners who are writing by prescription (after reading too many conflicting “how to write a novel” books), which, sadly, is too often the experience. Writing is so solitary that it’s probably a mental health requirement to get out there with our work on occasion! 😉

    • I found your blog through Eric Baker – glad to connect! I free that writing is a solitary hobby or career. We need to get out and socialize an commiserate.

  2. Pingback: The Legend of Zelda Update | Kristen Otte

  3. Hi Kristen!

    Thanks for furthering the discussion. I’m glad you had a good experience. Those Zelda stories are really well written, so maybe that’s the starting point for a good writing-group result: The people involved already have a developed writing voice and can offer worthwhile advice to someone else with a developed writing voice.

    The frustrated scientist in me is always trying to come up with a hypothesis.

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